How to React to Negative Reviews & Feedback Online

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  • 0:03 Not So Friendly Skies
  • 1:10 Responding to Negative…
  • 4:21 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Handling negative online feedback requires a little finesse, patience, and a mind to not only satisfy customers but protect your brand's image. In this lesson, you'll learn more about how to react to online negativity.

Not So Friendly Skies

Thanks to the invention of the Internet, connecting directly with brands has become easier than ever. That's good news for companies wanting to get their message out or for consumers who need to get questions answered. But, it can be bad news for brands facing a public relations firestorm. Just ask United Airlines.

In April 2017, following an incident aboard one of its planes that went viral, the airline sustained serious negativity in comments and reviews across various online forums. Even the response from the airline's CEO, ''This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,'' fell flat with its audience.

Responding correctly to negative online feedback can be tricky. After all, your first reaction to negativity toward your company and its products or services is likely to include feelings of anger or frustration. You may want to take it personally or get defensive and type out an angry response. You might even be tempted to delete the negative comment (that's a bad idea, by the way). But, there are ways to handle negative reviews and feedback online that will soothe your disappointed or angry consumers, while putting your business in the best possible light. In this lesson, we'll look at some tips for having a positive reaction to the negativity.

Responding to Negative Online Feedback

So, the inevitable has happened and you've sustained a negative review or less-than-favorable feedback online. What's the first thing you should do? Panic? Delete it? Fire off a nasty reply? Nope, in fact, the first thing to do is much simpler.

1. Apologize.

Okay, maybe that's easier said than done, but it's a necessity. Apologizing doesn't show weakness or even an admission of wrongdoing. What it does is acknowledge to the consumer that you're sorry they had a bad experience and validates their feelings. Whether you're in the wrong or in the right, a sincere apology that is direct and public can go a long way both for the offended party and those who see it.

2. Be sympathetic.

We're all consumers of something, whether it's groceries or airline tickets. Put yourself in your customers' shoes by trying to understand their point of view. This can help guide your responses and resolution. If you express genuine sympathy in your reply, something like, ''I'm sorry your stay in our hotel wasn't a pleasant experience,'' you can soften most customers because they realize they're being heard.

3. Remain polite.

One negative online comment from a consumer might lead to another ... and another ... before you can get the problem resolved. Whatever happens, be polite at all times. Politeness demonstrates the professionalism of your company. So, take a deep breath, think through your response and keep it cordial. Don't place blame or make accusations. Remember that you're trying to sympathize with your customers and put yourself in their shoes.

4. Turn a negative review into a marketing opportunity.

If you've been slammed online for how long it took for diners to get a seat in your restaurant, use that comment as an opportunity to remind people what your usual customer service is like. For example, you might say, ''We're sorry you had to wait such a long time. Typically, we're able to get diners seated in 15 minutes or less.''

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